Tory survival tactics
By George, they've got it! The Tories, that is. They have utterly absorbed the concept of minority government - and how to work the system.
For evidence, see their proposed crackdown on sex offenders. It involves closer monitoring of such individuals. Nothing exceptional about that: it featured prominently in their election manifesto.
The neat touch, however, is to sell the policy as a potential deal with the new SNP Scottish Executive. That prospect was cleverly spun over the weekend. (Nice one, Ramsay.)
The SNP executive has shown interest in pursuing this issue. Smart move on their part. Their very survival depends on such negotiated deals. More to the point, if they want to do anything with power - and they do - then such accommodations will become part of the landscape.
Alex Salmond's calculation will be: deliver a concession to an opposition party (as long as it doesn't cause you political pain) - and trust that they're equally pliant when SNP ministers want to do something in the future.
So why are the Tories to the smiling fore in this regard by contrast with the grim faces on the Labour and Liberal Democrats? Several reasons.
Firstly, the Tories haven't lost power - and had no expectation of gaining power. Their only contribution has been and is to work the system from the opposition benches. Secondly, the Tories' long term strategy is to rebuild acceptance as a mainstream party in the Scottish body politic.
Remember their 50 year decline from the peak of 1955. Remember that they had a (relatively) poor election, slipping back a seat in net terms. They need to be seen as players, not observers.
Thirdly, the other parties still harbour hopes of bringing down the SNP executive. They're not yet in a place, mentally, where they can work consistently with Alex and his gang.
PS: There's another structural element. The (very) long term logic of the Conservative position is to argue for maximum devolution to Scotland - or even quasi-independence.
That is because the Tory proposition will only truly thrive when they have the scope to offer tax cuts and a vibrant free-market approach. For that, they need fiscal autonomy or something close to it. Smart Tories know that. For now - and for the immediate future - such an approach clashes with their Unionist credentials.
Maybe someone else will have to do it for them. Remember that they survived as a party because of devolution - which they reviled - and proportional voting, which they opposed.